Most people incorrectly think the divorce rate is climbing, but don't think an unhappy couple should soldier on for the sake of the kids
Until the postwar years getting a divorce in many states could be difficult, with couples looking to part ways being required to prove that they had been wronged by each other. As states began to reform their laws and adopt 'no-fault' divorce laws in the 50s and 60s, the floodgates opened and millions of couples who once would have been stuck together were able to divorce. With this revolution, however, came anxiety over the fate of the nuclear family and whether marriage could survive as an institution when the rate of divorce was climbing ever upwards.
The latest research from YouGov shows that Americans' assumptions about divorce are out-dated. When asked whether the divorce rate today is higher than it was thirty years ago, the vast majority (73%) of the country said that the divorce rate is higher now. In reality, the divorce rate peaked in the early 80s, and has been steadily declining since. When asked how many marriages end in divorce, 20% say that two-thirds do, while 48% say that roughly half do. This is closer to reality than beliefs about a rising divorce rate, but even among people who got married in the 80s - the group most likely to divorce - just less than half of marriages in in divorce.
Now the divorces are far easier to get than they were sixty or seventy years ago, one of the bigger reasons why married people stick together is 'for the sake of the kids'. Most Americans, however, don't think that it is better for children if parents stick at an unhappy marriage. 58% disagree with the sentiment, while only 33% agree with it. Democrats (72%) are by far the most likely to disagree with the sentiment, but even most Republicans (52%) and half of independents are on the same page.
Responses to this question differ only slightly depending according to whether or not someone's parents ever got divorced. Among people whose parents are divorced, 35% agree that it is better to stay together for the kids, while 61% disagree. Among people whose parents are not divorced, 34% agree and 56% disagree.
Full poll results can be found here.